Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment


This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT Disability Services at [email protected] for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.


During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class four to six days per week for two to four hours per day. You will have one break per class. Learning is typically assessed through written assignments, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, and group assignments. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in a digital format.

If you have questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Program Center

The SIT program office is in a single-level house located in a residential neighborhood. The computer space, student lounge, and two restrooms are located on the ground level. The building entrance has a door measuring at least 32 in. (82 cm.) wide. Classrooms are located at partner universities and are either in the style of a typical lecture hall (arena seating) or in rooms with individual student desks. The above spaces are located on the ground floor of their respective buildings and have a minimum of five to six entrance steps.


Program excursions include field visits to public health centers throughout Arica and the surrounding valleys. Multiday excursions include traveling to the rural area of Putre in the high plains (altiplano) and Temuco in southern Chile. Excursions include visits to a national park and a biosphere reserve. You should expect to stand, walk, and hike for long periods of time. A pair of comfortable, rubber-soled, waterproof trekking shoes is recommended. To take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.


The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your homestays. These placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Urban homestays offer regular access to Wi-Fi, cellular service, electricity to charge devices, and refrigerators to store medication. Access to telephones and/or internet in rural homestays and excursions may be limited. Accessible homestay options are currently available but limited. If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Dietary Needs

The “typical” diet in Chile is based on rice, beans, sauces, pasta, soups, fish, bread, meat (beef, poultry), vegetables, and fruit. Throughout the urban areas of Chile, citizens enjoy a varied and cosmopolitan diet, with few surprises for the student. The diet in rural regions may be more uniform. Like in many other Latin American countries, the largest meal is usually eaten in the middle of the day. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets are entirely possible to accommodate. In Chile, you can look for items with the gluten-free certificate and logo. In some locations, it may not be possible to guarantee zero exposure to certain foods or a given allergen. For students who keep kosher, placement with a Jewish homestay family may be possible but cannot be guaranteed; however, dietary restrictions will definitely be accommodated. All dietary needs and concerns will be taken into consideration during all homestays, both urban and rural.

SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate dietary needs whenever possible. For more information on dietary needs and dietary preferences, please review the Student Support section of the Student Health, Safety, and Support web page.


General routes of travel have limited accessibility. You will typically travel between your homestay, classes, and/or placement sites either by walking (five to fifteen minutes) or by local bus or collective taxi (ten to fifteen minutes). Private buses are contracted for transportation during local site visits and excursions. Buses are not equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps and have limited room to stand or stretch.


You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, flash drives, and assistive technology. It is also recommended that you fully insure your electronic property against loss or theft. The program center and all host family houses have Wi-Fi service. Convenient computer access at internet cafés in Arica is available on occasion, for a fee. Unfortunately, it is not possible to rent a laptop locally.

If you have questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Health Resources

The program has a standing relationship with medical doctors and psychologists for any services needed during the program. Adequate medical services can be found throughout Chile, including Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Temuco, Putre, and Arica. The recommended emergency care center in Viña del Mar is the Clinica Reñaca (where the program’s bilingual doctor works), and in Valparaíso it’s the Hospital Van Buren. In Arica, the private clinic, LifeMed, and private San Jose Hospital are affiliated with the program and are near all homestay locations. Prescriptions written by local doctors and over-the-counter medicines are widely available. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service.

Chile is seismically active; earth tremors are a common occurrence. Program staff will discuss safety tips and instructions in orientation.

Students with a history of asthma or allergies should be warned that air pollution, particularly in urban settings, is steadily worsening, resulting in an increasing incidence of respiratory illness. However, this is not a problem in Arica.

Admitted students are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns about accessing health services or medication while abroad during the health review process. Read more about the health review process and the summary of benefits for student health insurance.

Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations

To request disability-related accommodations, admitted students should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at [email protected] or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.

Additional Support Resources

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.

Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.